Blog Archives

A Deputy Head Teachers Perspective On Using Spy Quest For Transition and Alignment To Curriculum For Excellence

On first receiving information on ‘Spy Quest’ I was immediately interested in exploring the opportunity that it provided for game-based learning. I was convinced upon reading the design brief, that if it genuinely was an immersive learning experience the student’s primary-secondary transition programme would be enhanced through the inclusion of ‘Spy Quest’ in the learning activities planned for the first week of term. I hoped to use ‘Spy Quest’ as a motivational catalyst to support our new students in building relationships and in exploring their new school. Coming to terms with its layout and design by ‘osmosis’ rather than the traditional guided tour.

As it turned out the game did all of this and more. The range of missions required that the young people deployed their inter-personal skills – communication, team working, negotiation, decision making and also their cross cutting skills in ICT, numeracy and problem solving.

Curriculum for excellence aims to ensure that our young people develop the attributes, knowledge and skills needed for life, learning and work. The first year students were quick to recognise the teambuilding aspect of the game but the review materials provided were invaluable in supporting the students to reflect on the skills used during the game and allowed them to recognise their own personal strengths and those of their team.

Although St Thomas Aquinas RC Secondary School used this with first year students to support their transition to secondary school the scope for using this with other year groups to develop teamwork and analyse core skills is clear to see.

An excellent resource. Fun, engaging and great value for money.

Message from Polybius Headquarters


Eileen Kennedy (Depute Head Teacher, St Thomas Aquinas RC Secondary School)



St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School – S5 Student Budding Journalist – Spy Quest

Periods 5 and 6 on a Friday usually seem to be the most anticipated of the week as, to students, they mean freedom. But on the afternoon of 17th August the first year students in St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School were in for a treat. All S1 students took part in a learning activity called the ”Super Spy challenge’ which aimed to help the new pupils develop their core skills not only needed for school but for life. It encouraged them to get to know the people in their team by pulling them together and exercising how well they could work with each other. Some people in the group had strengths which could aid the others’ weaknesses, as they may have a different way of doing things. Each group was led by S3 students, enabling them to get to know one another.

The spy camp challenge began above the water cooler in the social area, with a sign hung above it indicating that a code had to be cracked. This then led the students to go to various different parts of the school to gather envelopes which would help them crack their code. Not only was it a challenge, but it was also a competition and this led to the first years rushing to get to their next destination, cracking all the necessary codes. Adam in 1R1 said, “I enjoyed the afternoon and really got to know where some of the rooms were.”

I spoke to one of our third year students – who were also involved in the project as actors, playing out various roles – who identified himself as ‘Bond, James Bond.’ Clearly he was taking his role very seriously! Two other female aspiring actresses portrayed roles in the science department, one as a crazed scientist and the other as a granny with a convincing Irish accent. A science technician sat in the back of the classroom brewing chemicals to add to the mysterious mood. When the clues had been spoken aloud from the characters, the spies had then at some point managed to get to a computer either located in the library or the IT department to type in a code and then receive information for where there should look next. It was a race against the clock, as they were given a limited amount of time to do so.

In the end, only one group could be pronounced as victorious and the winners were awarded with a glass trophy and certificates. One of the successful winners, Kieran (also in 1R1) said, “It was a great feeling to win. I really hope there will be more things to do like this.” All the students really enjoyed this active learning opportunity and have not stopped talking about it. They can’t wait to help out with the event next year!


Alisa Wylie, S5 student.